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The Federal Government Is Seeking More Control Of Self-Driving Cars

The U.S. Department of Education said Monday that it was mulling over the idea of taking the authority to review and approve the technology for “self-driving” cars, and that individual states should not set their own rules for the vehicles.

USDOT also issued a statement in which it called for automakers to conform to new voluntary guidelines whereby they would agree to safety assessments before their new vehicles were used on the nation’s roadways. The guidelines in question seek federal oversight of some ethical issues that include two given obstacles that a self-driving car should be programmed to hit, should a collision be unavoidable.

The document also includes ways to ensure that the technology in the self-driving cars works properly, how to share and record data, how well a self-driving vehicle would-survive a crash, and what such a vehicle would do post-crash. At present, automakers can self-certify that a vehicle meets safety standards, and automakers and technology companies have said that existing federal and state safety rules impede the development of self-driving vehicles.

USDOT Secretary Andrew Fox told reporters on Monday that a pre-market system of oversight under the federal government would “require a lot more upfront discussion, dialogue and staffing on our part."

One person who had been briefed on the guidelines noted, on the condition of anonymity, that the guidelines urge states not to require that a licensed driver be in the drivers’ seat whenever a “highly automated” vehicle is in operation.

Last year, Google had criticized proposed draft rules in California that would have required a licensed driver in an automated vehicle. While the California Department of Motor Vehicles has said that it would not issue a comment until the guidelines have been released, it will issue a revised draft in the weeks to come. Meanwhile, Michigan plans to adopt a law that would not require a licensed driver in a self-driving vehicle while it is being tested on public roads.

Lincoln Brown for Oilprice.com

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  • JHM on September 20 2016 said:
    Why would the Department of Education take the lead on this? Is that an error?

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